Pirates vs Houston Astros 9/6 PNC Park

Rain rain go away come again another day! Yes, I had planned to go to Monday’s game, but a combination of terrible weather and an even worse cough sidelined me for the day. At this game, I still had the cough a little bit, but considering I was already down at Point Park, I figured I could go to this game.

Heading into this game, I was putting my streak of 50 straight games with a baseball on the line big time. I have put my streak to the test all kinds of times this season, but on paper me going to this game made no sense. With the rain this week there would be no BP and things looked bleak. In my mind though, I knew that I had snagged 115 baseballs on the season and need to get to 128 in any way possible. This was a possible way, and even better I tend to get the best results of the ballhawks that attend when it rains. Something about the rain always seems to work in my favor.

I had a bigger problem to navigate though. I had a little over an hour to avoid a shutout on a day where a shutout was almost a guarantee. I could get in at five, but I had to leave a few minutes after six to prepare for the first ever volleyball game on Point Park’s campus. I am the volleyball beat writer for the school paper, so I knew I needed to attend. This made a seemingly unlikely task turn into a seemingly impossible one.

So after my English 250 class, I put on my Pirates dugout jacket and made the short walk to PNC Park arriving around 4:30 to see Jim Saylor ducked for cover. The tarp was indeed on the field but again I had two free tickets waiting for me at will call, so what did I have to lose? I chatted with Jim and then got my spot as first in line. I did not have to worry about who all was lining up at the gate as I could count on one hand who all was in line (myself, Jim, Harold, Baseball Joe and Big Yellow who joined a few minutes after the gates opened). Big Yellow attended as I gave him my other free ticket.

I searched left field pretty good for easter eggs and did not see anything.

Erik and Nick were not to be found, and you can’t blame them. They are both quite frustrated by the grounds crew freaking out over earlier rain and not removing the tarp. We have lost BP way more than we should have this year, and it has made our totals lower than they should be. I likely would have been right at 128 baseballs right now if these BPs didn’t get called out.

Ballhawks in cities such as Baltimore have it quite easy compared to us as they have much more room to run and they actually have hitters who consistently hit it over the left field wall. Our best chance (at least from the two minutes we see) Matt Diaz was just sent to the Atlanta Braves, which means not much hope here.

With this rain, the Pirates never even came out. Big Yellow and I spent most of the time talking, and then the rain stopped. The useless (cough cough) I mean grounds crew then came out to remove the tarp to get field ready. The field looked more than ready and I was upset, but at least the Astros pitchers were coming out to stretch.

Still it was 5:25 so I took off my Pirates dugout jacket as the rain stopped in favor of a red Under Armour sweatshirt and then ran over and got the first spot by the stairs leading to the first base area. I knew there would be no easter eggs in the outfield, and I plotted my strategy and chose the stair area that I felt would get me there the fastest.

When 5:30 came, I ran up, and someone (an autograph seeker) tried to cut me off. It was not going to happen, and I kept running and he stumbled (unsure if he fell or not and I really don’t care) and I just kept going. Let that be a lesson, when I am in the zone, do not try to race me, you WILL lose everytime.

This got me first into the area and there were no easter eggs there. I immediately scouted the competition I had, and planned a strategy.

One thing I did not count on was Harold coming down, but I knew that he was not a threat by any means. This led to the funniest moment of the day. An Astro had an overthrow, which Harold could not reach before it went to a grounds crew member. Harold had a lot of separation and the grounds crew guy threw it to him, but the throw was a little short and he could not read it well. It rolled right into a kid’s glove and the look on Harold’s face was priceless. Needless to say, he did not get a baseball before the game.

Meanwhile, I kept switching my position to try and gauge things. While this happened, a couple of funny moments occurred.

The first occurred when Doug Brocail, the Astros Pitching Coach warned an elderly couple right in the front of the wheelchair section that the relievers could not catch, and as if on cue, they nearly got beaned.

The other funny moment was when Brocail crouched in the catcher’s stance and caught for David Carpenter. Carpenter soon uncorked a terrible throw, and Brocail looked at me and we both shrugged our shoulders and shook our heads.

The Astros then started to run and because I did not have time to look at my cheat sheet, I missed asking Wesley Wright for a toss up.

Bud Norris nearly left me too. I had asked him for the baseball, and he might not have heard me, so when he started walking towards the dugout, I was starting to run over there as well and for some reason out of the corner of his eye, he must have seen me running, because right before I was going to catapault myself over the wheelchair section he looked at me, I flashed my glove and I had ball number one. Crisis and shutout averted.

Things then got quiet for a couple of minutes as many of the relievers continued running. Joe “Stretch” Suba was pocketing baseballs, and I tried to call to him but he must not have heard me either and he walked away. Just as I started to think I would end up with one, I saw one more baseball inside a glove, Suba had missed one.

At first I thought that it belonged to Aneury Rodriguez, but I ended up having the wrong Rodriguez. It was Fernando Rodriguez and I knew he was from America so I could not ask him in Spanish. I would have one shot at this, and after he signed his third and final autograph, I asked him nicely for the ball, and he said sure and held his glove out. It was a cool experience reaching into his glove for ball number two.

That was all I would get, but considering the circumstances and time, two baseballs was like getting double digits.

I then saw Big Yellow and knowing I had to leave bade him farewell. While the attendance was listed close to 10,000 it looked like a twister had hit the place and maybe 250 people were there, but perhaps I am exaggerating.

Assuming I am feeling well, my next game is Friday against the Florida Marlins. Should be interesting, that’s for sure.


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